in Marginalia

Pen and pouch envy

Lamy Pico (lamy.com)

Lamy Pico (lamy.com)

When Lamy, the German pen company, designed the Pico, it didn’t have me in mind. I didn’t fit the demographic.
The Pico, Lamy’s clipless pocket pen, was simple, functional, and expensive; I was complicated (occasionally), useless (generally), and cheap (absolutely).
But in a past life, in a pen shop located far away, I got a Pico for myself.
It was a joy to look at, hold, and most importantly, use; a work of art which served a purpose that was — arguably — bigger than itself.
You could say that it was form and function incarnate.
Its rectangular, embossed insignia was intentionally designed to slightly protrude from the barrel, preventing it from rolling to the floor, especially if placed on an inclined surface (such as an architect’s table).
However, it was far too bare and delicate, especially to those whose work included taking notes on the run.
I was forced to think about the Pico recently after a friend — not exactly a fan of analog writing tools — called my attention to it. [See: Lamy Pico]
“Is the Pico really worth it?” he asked me on Facebook Messenger, referring to its price tag.
Without thinking twice, I replied in the affirmative, adding that I had already bought two since the first, presumably, was lost in the laundry, just like my Wynton Marsalis Quintet The Magic Hour concert T-shirt.

I still have the autographed CD even though I may have lost the T-shirt.

I still have the autographed CD even though I have lost the T-shirt.

My friend was looking for replace his Cross Ion — also a pocket pen — because he was having a difficult time sourcing its refills.
He was looking to get a Pico, owing to its size, but he wasn’t buying — at least not yet.
“It’s just too expensive,” he said.
I confessed that I was already bought in more ways than one.
My Pico was the gateway drug to Lamy pens — it led me to buy a Lamy 2000, a Lamy Scribble, a Lamy Scribble pencil (later stolen at the MRT), and another Lamy 2000 (and I’m seriously thinking of having triplets: the first for the bedside, the second for writing desk, and the third for the everday carry). [See: Lamy 2000Lamy Scribble, Everyday Carry]
Anyway, despite the endorsement, I told my friend that the Pico isn’t exactly for people on the go such as himself. It’s a handy writing instrument for the leisure class (present company excluded).
Why do I say this?
Sad to say, the Pico is more form than function.
Unlike the Parker Jotter — the King of ballpoint pens — the Pico is not as quick on the draw. [See: Parker Jotter]
On more than one occasion, the Pico’s mechanism either gets stuck or fails to proceed. As a result, the button needs to be pushed again — longer and perhaps even harder — to ensure that the ballpoint does come out. These delays and interruptions aren’t likely to be treasured in fast-paced environments which reporters tend to cover.
But that’s not the only setback.
The Pico is insular.
It is not resilient enough to tolerate, let alone mingle with other items generally stored in pockets. Keys will nick it, coins will scuff it, and mobile phones will dent it.

The Pico with the nicks and scuffs of outrageous misfortune

The Pico with the nicks and scuffs of outrageous misfortune

To use it as an EDC, you have to leave it alone in one pocket.
Or you can get a specially designed pouch that costs about a third of the pen’s price.
While the pouch will protect the Pico from encounters with unsavory and unpleasant objects, it nevertheless defeats the purpose of having a pen handy enough to write with at a moment’s notice (because now, every single time inspiration hits, you have to extricate it from the pouch).
With all the requisite obligations that come with owning and using a Pico, why buy one?
Simple: the Lamy Pico is eye candy; one that you can use, should the need arise.

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